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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 88 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Chien Noir Actual Play  (Read 2141 times)

Posts: 11

« on: April 12, 2006, 09:23:02 PM »

I am finally writing up up how the Chien Noir
game worked out, after an embarrassingly long time.

In short, it played very well.

Some background: the people that I was preparing the game for were
old-school gamers that were interested in indie rpgs, but they had an
active antipathy for playing religious characters.   Chien Noir
was my solution. The players had a disappointing experience with
'Prime Time Adventures'.  In short, they wanted the system to provide
more structure for them than PTA does.  I thought that DitV would
work for them, giving them more structure but not restricting then.

In noir, characters need to have their own code that matters to them.
Keeping to their code is what makes a noir hero.  This fits perfectly
into DitV's system that runs off what characters are willing to risk
to win.  Corruption renders the authorities useless, making the
detectives the final arbiters in their cases.

DitV also has the most genuinely cinematic system that I know of.  In
the system it makes perfect sense to start out talking, then escalate
to blows, and finally pull out the guns.  Just like they do it in the
movies. It makes sense to go though escalation steps, even if the
characters know that the conflict is going to end in gunfire.

A bout the situation:  the players are in L.A. in 1947, investigating
the murder of the Black Dahlia (Elizabeth Short).  They find out that
she wasn't pregnant but thought she was, had a botched abortion and
died from complications.  The big moral question is, what do you do
with the solution once you've solved the puzzle?

Character creation took roughly half an hour, with the players making
1) A paratrooper that wanted to get on with civilian life, but still
   had a lot of contacts with his unit.  His initiation was settling
   a bar fight without throwing punches himself.
2) A WREN that treasured the freedom and responsibility she got in the
   army, and wasn't about to give it up. Her initiation was landing a
   plane on it's last legs.
3) A second women that learned to hunt and shoot in Idaho, and was a
   a WAC office clerk in D.C.  Her initiation was intimidating a couple
   of PFCs that were harassing another WAC.

Remember, this was set in L.A. in 1947.  The big defining question for
everybody is "what did you do during the war?"

The game went in two short sessions.  In the first session the players
went around L.A. talking to people.  There were no conflicts because I
wanted them to talk to everybody, and pretty much everybody they
wanted to talk to wanted to tell a story.  Even if the players did
want to spend half an hour talking to the guy that did the polygraphs.
Even though we didn't use the conflict system per se, the character
creation system made it easy enough to flesh out characters that the
talking bits went smoothly.  The players could easily envision their
characters in the world.

In the second session, they had a had a major lead that didn't want
to be found.  OK, so use the system, but instead of a fight the
players are narrating a montage scene of them looking for the person
and the problems they PCs run into.  Not at all covered in the rules
but a very natural application thereof.
Since they were looking for an abortion doctor, the players had to
ask a lot of questions about women in a delicate way, and the
NPC raises came in the form of rumors about the male PC getting both
the female PCs in trouble.

They found the big lead who took the PCs to the abortionist, who was
a fabulously rich doctor that had been the studio's favorite doctor
for decades.  The PCs found out the story, and agreed to keep quite
as long as the doctor started also doing abortions for women who
could not afford his fee, and never ever had another botch like the
Back Dahlia.

All well and done, but I wanted to see the PCs taking d10 fallout,
dammit!  The PCs said that after making the deal they were going to
continue investigating the doctor.  I decided this spooked the doctor
and he calls in the help of the Jewish mob that was running L.A.
then.  They kidnap one of the PC's main contacts, and after an
argument and a scuffle, the bullets start flying. We made an
interesting discovery:  The higher the conflict escalates (talking,
blows, guns) the more boring the fight gets. When you're talking,
there are lots of things to say; in a fight you can describe all the
things you do; there aren't that many ways to say "I shoot him".

All in all, the players are bugging me as to when I'm going to
run Chien Noir again.


==Ed Freeman
==If there's no such thing as magic, why do we
  have the word?

Posts: 47

« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2006, 07:34:42 AM »

That sounds super good.

Though fighting can be interesting too, you just have to raise in different ways than "I shoot him"

Like a gunfight in a bar.

I raise "He pulls his revolver and empties the cylinder in your general direction, hoping for a lucky hit."

You block to see "I dive behind the bar as bullets pepper the wood in front of me."

You raise "I grab a couple of bottles off the wall and start throwing them" (In addition to not shooting, you get an extra 1d6 for throwing the bottles, especially useful if you have already raised with your gun.

I take the blow "The bottle cracks me in the head, but remarkably doesn't break.  I take a swig"

I raise "I direct my goons to unload at the bottles behind the bar, raining glass down on you" Bringing the goons traits into the conflict.  Note, this could just as easily be a raise with just him shooting the bottles above you.

See what I mean though?  The system actively encourages you to use your surroundings.  And if your NPCs start doing it, you be damn skippity the players won't be far behind. :D

Posts: 468

« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2006, 11:20:14 AM »

The repeated "I shoot him" raises are probably a holdover from traditional RPGs with GMs who wanted to stick to the rules ("No, you can't kick sand in his face and get a bonus to hit - the rules don't cover that."). Dogs allows you to do all those cinematic things that other systems never let you do - simply because the mechanic is the same (push forward two dice), the narration has limited systematic impact, though it does tell us what kind of fallout will be taken. Which is an interesting thing to note - you can bring out your guns and shooting dice, and keep the raises as talk - and limit fallout to d4s if you want. It's also neat to see how you can make it easy for the other guy to block or dodge.

Definitely if the players are having trouble seeing what they can do, the GM needs to step in and show by example.

And from the one game I ran, when guns come out, the tension definitely went up, and I think the quality of narration went up.


Frank Filz

Posts: 67

« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2006, 12:41:40 PM »

besides, just because you start shooting doesnt mean you have to stop talking.

i second that the colour sounds real cool.

Posts: 468

« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2006, 09:22:16 AM »

besides, just because you start shooting doesnt mean you have to stop talking.
And I think that's what makes Dogs so cool!


Frank Filz
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